Friday, August 16, 2013

Dachshunds 101 - Back to Basics and IVDD...

Dachshunds don't come with an instruction manual but I sometimes think they should.

Anyone who owns a dachshund, or is thinking of getting one, needs to be aware of some of the issues that come with having responsibility for a sausage dog.

One of the most important is knowing about back trouble, how to reduce the risk, spot the signs, respond to emergencies and deal with the consequences. Being informed and prepared can make all the difference to the outcome for your furry friend. If you read nothing else today, read this.

The four letter word (well acronym) is  IVDD. That stands for Intervertebral Disc Disease. 1 in 5 dachshunds will suffer from it in their lifetime, usually between the ages of 3 and 7 years.

Goofy is one of our senior members and example of a dog who has gone though treatment and has gone on to lead a wonderful life with his loving family

There are some great resources available to owners who want to know more about IVDD. Many of them contain some really detailed information you'll probably only read after the fact.

Do yourself and your dog a favour, know ahead of time what you can do to reduce the risk, how to spot the earliest warning signs, and put a plan in place in case you need it.

I hope there will be a time in the not too distant future where it will be easy for breeders to screen for the genetic markers of IVDD and hopefully, one day, eliminate it from the breed.  In the meantime there are things you can do right now.

  1. Know what you're getting into

    There are a lot of good reasons to buy from a reputable breeder.  A good breeder will be fully aware of the health issues that affect this breed and should be making efforts to breed for healthy dogs. This won't guarantee you're buying a dog that doesn't carry the gene, but your chances are better than if you know nothing about the parents of your dachshund.
  2. Lean on me

    Keep your dog slim. Extra weight significantly increases the risk of back problems.
  3. Keep your dachshunds low to the ground

    That might sound silly, but it is important to train your dog not to jump onto or off furniture, and to keep them away from stairs.  If you can't do with a snuggle on the couch (and who cam) then ramps are a great idea. Know how to pick up and carry your dachshund properly.
  4. Be alert but not alarmed

    Know the signs to look for and act immediately if you spot them. Immediate crate rest and veterinary attention can make the difference between a good recovery and the alternatives.
  5. Have a plan

    Like any emergency you will handle it much better if you don't have to think about what to do because you already know. If you even suspect that your dog might be "going down" get them into a crate to restrict movement and seek veterinary advice.  If you're not happy with the advice you get, see another vet.
  6. Timing is everything

    When it comes to dachshund backs don't wait wait to to see how it goes . Your best chance of a good outcome is to take immediate action (and that means complete inaction for your dog -see  crate rest).
  7. Keep calm and hug your dachshund.

    Don't give give up - even if your dachshund develops IVDD with early intervention there is hope of a good recovery. There are conservative and surgical treatment paths and options for rehabilitation.  We have a number of examples in our longdog and dachshund rescue groups of dogs who have gone through this and gone on to live long, happy and fulfilled lives.
  8. Share and share alike

    If you know someone with a dachshund who doesn't know about IVDD, tell them about it. The more people know the better the outcomes will be.
  9. Be gentle on yourself

    If the worst thing happens know you are not alone. Be gentle with others too. Long Dogs WA is about support not about judgement.
  10. Feedback is a gift

    If your dog does go down with IVDD, let your breeder know. This shouldn't be  blaming exercise, but may assist them to adjust their breeding lines in the future to reduce the likelihood of IVDD genetics being passed along.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Trembling, yelping
  • Reluctance to move
  • Hunched back
  • Staggering/ uncoordinated walking, hind limbs crossing over or dragging
  • Back legs paralysed
  • Head/ neck held in abnormal position
  • Reluctant to put head down to feed 

Crate Rest

I know a lot of people will cringe at the though of putting their four legged family member in a cage, and sure as eggs your dog isn't going to think much of it either if being in a crate is new to them.

However, immediate and complete crate rest is an essential part of your dog's treatment.

That means using a crate that allows your dog to lie down, turn around and not much else. Toilet breaks mean carrying your dog to their toilet spot, keeping them on a lead and then straight back to the crate afterwards.

No couch cuddles, no sleeping in the bed.  If you want to camp out next to the crate in a sleeping bag, go crazy (I know I would) but little Ruby or Dash stays put.


For more information on IVDD check out these great resources

Dachshund IVDD Support Australia

This page has been started up by owners of dachshunds who have gone down with IVDD.

"Due to their very short legs and elongated backs 1 in 5 dachshunds develop IVDD (Invertebral Disk Disease).
As dachshund owners it is extremely important the we have have a good understanding of spinal health issues  plus know how best to keep our dogs happy, healthy and well.
Please take the time to check out this page and LIKE it."

Dodgers list
Dodgers list is based in the US but is one of the best known resources. One of our Long Dog members has arranged to reproduce and distribute information from them so look out for Mercedes (the girl not the car) at our Long Dog events for more info.

Long Dogs WA
What every dachshund parent should know about IVDD

Caitlyn and Mercedes have also pulled together some great information in our very own facebook group. This is likely to grow over time so check it out.

Dachshund Health U.K.

Dachshund Health Information Library



On a personal note I would encourage anyone getting a dachshund to pair their purchase with pet insurance.  If you can't afford pet insurance, you might want to think about a different breed. Back problems commonly occur between 3 and 7 years of age, so if you don't get insurance, please start setting aside a savings fund for a worst case scenario. Having to think about how you're going to fund the treatment at the same as dealing with it would be my absolute nightmare.

Thanks to Mercedes and Caitlyn for compiling much of this information for our group.


  1. There is no genetic test for IVDD we spent a lot of time and money for many years conducting X-rays on breeding parent Dachshunds and this has now proved to show no correlation to offspring developing IVDD I would say that like humans with longer backs Dachshunds are predisposed to having a higher than normal chance of disc problems.

  2. we have been breeding Dachshunds for 24 years, a;ll our clients are informed of the chance that Dachshunds may develop IVDD and that our experience indicates anecdotally that health good diet and exercise will reduce the incidence of IVDD